A longtime Memorial Day weekend tradition to honor veterans is now canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are persisting calls to bring it back.
For decades, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other groups have devoted part of the holiday to place small American flags at the graves of veterans and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice as a way to honor our country’s war heroes.
Yet this year the Department of Veteran’s Affairs has prohibited public events at the sites because of COVID-19. The Boy Scouts and other groups have been barred from carrying out the mass flag placements.
On Long Island, N.Y., where more than 500,000 veterans are buried at two national military cemeteries, there are demands for the VA to reconsider and rescind the ban.
“If we can’t figure out a way to make sure we are placing flags at their graves to honor them, then something is seriously wrong,” said Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, whose county includes the sprawling Calverton and Long Island National Cemeteries, which hold more veterans than any other military cemetery in the nation, including Arlington National Cemetery.
Every year, the members of Boy Scout Troop 443 from Middle Island, N.Y., place thousands of flags next to the headstones at one of the Suffolk sites, the Calverton National Cemetery.
Bellone is confident that officials can carry out a plan that would keep the Scouts safe.